A Poor Man can make a difference (Micah 1:1)

20 kings reigned over the nation of Judah after Solomon’s death. Zedekiah was the last one. During his reign, Babylon destroyed the city of Jerusalem and dismantled the temple. These kings were all descendants of David for the most part and it’s through this line that the Messiah is said to have come. During this period of Judah’s history, most of the kings “did what was evil” in the sight of the Lord and God raised prophets to confront them and call them back to righteousness. The prophets are usually identified by who was on the throne during their ministries to the country. Micah prophesied during the days of the 11th, 12th, and 13th kings; Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Jotham is said to have been a good king overall. Ahaz was bad and Hezekiah was good. The first two reigned for 16 years each, but Hezekiah, another good king, reigned for 29 years. Now, Micah’s message, however, although delivered during the reigns of these three kings of the south, was not just concerning the capital city of Jerusalem. It was also concerning the capital city, Samaria, of the northern kingdom of Israel. Of the 19 kings that reigned in the north, none of them were said to have been good kings. They all “did what was evil” in the sight of the Lord. Hezekiah was the reigning king in Judah in 721-722 BC, when Samaria fell to the Assyrians. Micah’s prophecy begins, “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”

Micah was from Moresheth. “Moresheth was a small and obscure place in the foothills of southwestern Judah, and this probably means that Micah himself was a peasant farmer typical of the area. He would thus be one of the poor and oppressed groups who were ill-treated by the rich.”[1] He will speak about this abuse later in his prophecy. The UBS (United Bible Society) handbook suggests the phrase “concerning” might best be translated as “what was going to happen to Jerusalem and Samaria.” Micah is going to address their future of course, but he’s also going to point out “why” this is going to happen. I think the “why” is the most important part of Micah’s prophecy. Martin says, “These cities obviously represented all 12 tribes of the nation. The prophet denounced evil which was rampant throughout the nation. The Northern Kingdom had long before strayed from the covenant given through Moses. And the people in the Southern Kingdom were acting like their brothers and sisters to the north, failing to live according to the covenant.”[2]

The thing about Micah’s prophecy is that it concerned the fall of Samaria but was mostly addressed to the southern kingdom of Judah. Samaria, and the ten tribes of the north, were scattered. That kingdom would be no more because it did not keep the covenant God made with Israel. Judah was still in existence and it continued to live on as its own kingdom for another century. That happened because they listened to Micah’s message from God. I believe this might be the reason Hezekiah’s reign is considered to be one of the best ones. He listened to Micah. This is a bright spot in the history of Judah. While most of the other prophets were ignored, Jerusalem listened to Micah. Boice says the encouraging part is that “In Micah’s case the message of judgment was heeded, repentance followed, and the disaster was postponed for a century. Hosea and Amos were ignored. Jeremiah was imprisoned. But here was one prophet who was listened to and whose preaching, therefore, changed history. In coming to Micah we should be encouraged to learn that one man did make a difference.”[3]

[1] Clark, David J., and Norm Mundhenk. 1982. A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Micah. UBS Handbook Series. London; New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Martin, John A. 1985. “Micah.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, 1:1477. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Boice, James  Montgomery. 2002. The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.